There is just one big question when it comes to this week’s Presidents Cup event featuring the United States against an international team: How big of a U.S. blowout will this be?
If you look at the numbers, this is as glaring a mismatch as there is.
Here’s why. The lowest player in the world rankings on the U.S. Team is Matt Kuchar at No. 24. The International team has just three players (Adam Scott at No. 18, No. 20 Louis Oosthuizen and Hideki Matsuyama at No. 21) ranked higher. Add in the fact there are four International players who aren’t ranked in the Top 50 and you know there’s a problem for the International Team.
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The 2019 event will be held at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. This is both good news and bad news for both teams. This was also the site for the 2011 event, won by the U.S. team 19-15 and also the site in 1998 won by the International Team 20½-11½.
We’ll start with the United States Team, a -275 betting favorite. In theory, the world No. 1 Brooks Koepka was all set to highlight this squad. But knee woes will have him sidelined. One would think losing the top player in the event would be worrisome.
One would be wrong.
All playing captain Tiger Woods had to do was reach into his bag of tricks and pull out No. 22 Rickie Fowler and insert him into that spot. The team now is made up of: No. 4 Justin Thomas, No. 5 Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Woods, No. 7 Patrick Cantlay and No. 9 Xander Schauffele as selections ranked in the top 10. Not a bad start.
But there’s more firepower to come. Add in No. 11 Webb Simpson, No. 12 Patrick Reed, No. 13 Bryson DeChambeau, No. 16 Tony Finau, No. 17 Gary Woodland along with Fowler and Kuchar and you’ve got the entire team in the top 25.
Scott and Matsuyama are solid selections for Ernie Els’ International Team. But after those two, there’s a huge falloff in talent, experience and victories…and probably butterflies.
Rounding out the International Team (after hometown favorite Jason Day, ranked No. 31, had to withdraw) are: No. 28 Marc Leishman, No. 36 Sungjae Im, No. 39 Abraham Ancer, No. 42 Byeong Hun An (replacing Day), No. 48 Adam Hadwin, No. 52 Cameron Smith, No. 56 Joaquin Niemann, No. 64 C.T. Pan and No. 65 Haotong Li.
On paper this one is a severe trouncing by the U.S. team in the making. But …
With every mismatch, there’s always that glimmer of hope. Will the U.S. squad come in overconfident? Can the International Team put together enough winning two-man teams over the first two days to keep the score close heading into the final round singles matches on Sunday? If the answers are yes, the next question is obvious: How does the International Team overcome the U.S. firepower in singles?
The simple answer is they can’t. And won’t.
Chalk this one up to the fact the United States team has won 10 of the 12 events as there was a tie in the 2003 event to go along with the International Team winning in 1998.
We’re going to make that 11 of 13 as the U.S. squad, behind captain and player Woods, should coast to victory and let bettors cash winning tickets, even if those odds are going to require much bigger wagers than we’d like to make if we’re going to make any money.
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